12 Reasons to Rethink Pickleball Advice during Open Play

And 5 best practices if you are absolutely compelled to help struggling pickleball players...

Ask for permission before offering pickleball advice, dog begging

Why you might think twice about providing unsolicited advice to your pickleball partner during rec play

Unsolicited pickleball advice is often perceived as unwelcome criticism...

One of the most useful things an amateur player can do during pickleball rec or open play is to focus attention on the quality of their own game (and not their partner's game). After all, what you have control of during pickleball games is when and where you make contact with the pickleball, which part of the court you target and which shot you hit.

Many times we know very little about our new pickleball partner when we meet them on the court to play our next game. And, even if we do happen to know them well, we aren't privy to their inner chatter and we certainly can't see the court, opportunities and risks in quite the same way that they do.

How many pickleball players have you met that have an entertaining, embarrassing or funny story about making assumptions at 0-0-2?

Did You Know? Some private facilities strongly discourage advising and coaching during open play. One reason is some private clubs have pickleball coaches available for lessons and clinics. Another reason is "coaching" can slow games down and may be annoying to your opponents or waiting players. Also, many players do not welcome unsolicited feedback when they're on the court -- for whatever reason.

The reality is that we might not really know our pickleball partner at all...

Here are things that we can't immediately observe about new partners:

  1. If they're just warming up, but actually as competent or stronger than you. Some players require a couple of games to warm up.

  2. If they're just having a bad day, but usually as competent or much stronger than you. It happens.

  3. If they just played with less competent players and didn't get many balls to warm up and/or need a little bit of time to re-adjust to a faster, more skillful game.

  4. If they have a paid coach, group of talented mentors, etc. that are working with them on specific aspects of their game

  5. If they have a desire to improve. Some players ARE playing just for fun.

  6. If they're focusing on specific skills or strategies today.

  7. If they perceive advice as unwelcome criticism.

  8. If their agenda for today is to just have fun and temporarily step away from challenges in their personal or work life.

  9. If they are resistant to receiving advice from you personally due to past history or how and when you choose to deliver advice.

  10. If they have an opinion about the quality of your advice; they recognize that your advice is contrary to other valued sources.

  11. If they notice that you, too, make the same mistakes (and are too polite to say something directly to you about them).

  12. If comments and chitchat causes them to lose their focus on the court.

In my experience, players that are constantly providing feedback to all of their partners are sometimes oblivious to the fact that people avoid playing with them or they're "that one" in their pickleball community...

Best Practices for Providing Coaching during Rec Play

  1. Get permission first. If they say "no," let it go. If they say "later," let it go unless they initiate asking you about it later.

  2. Choose a max of 1-2 topics per day. Don't overwhelm people with too much info.

  3. Be succinct. Stay on point and look for overwhelm.

  4. Practice what you preach. Don't provide advice that you yourself can't model or demonstrate. (All too often, after a player gives advice, they end up making the same mistake within minutes.)

  5. Next time, repeat all steps. Just because a player gives you permission one day does not mean you can other days.

Pickleball Broadcast Infographic - Offering Unsolicited Pickleball Coaching

Pickleball Advice Infographic by The Pickleball Broadcast